Monday, 20 September 2010

Bardigues en Fete

Its another round of village fayres again in Tarn et Garonne! This weekend we attended the Fete de Bardigues. The village fayres generally last all weekend with events on the saturday and an open air meal for the village followed by dancing and fireworks.

We had anticipated the fireworks, but were not prepared for such a spectacular display from a village with just over 200 residents. We were treated to over 25 minutes of beautiful colours and loud bangs with rocket after rocket exploding into huge balls of colour illuminating the clear stary skies for minutes on end.

On Sunday morning we were up bright and early to do our first carboot sale in the village. I had spent a few hours with Abigail my youngest going through things we wanted to sell the previous weekend and were fully organised and prepared.

With the car loaded and the sun shining but with a slight nip in the air we drove the 1/2 mile to the village. We set our stall out between two large plaine trees that lined the road to the village and took our seats in the sunshine. After 3 hours I was miffed.....I had had no one looking at my stuff at all and neither had Abigail. Clearly people wanted to buy crap as Nick was doing a roaring trade!!

I was called on for my translation skills on numerous occasions, however we had forgotten the dictionary and Nick didnt know what it was he was selling in English, let alone me trying to translate it into French! Still, we had a laugh, met lots of people and an English couple that lived just a few miles away!

(Result.....the English woman has a couple of very nice horses and wants someone to ride out with offering me a ride out anytime....after that I was not worried I hadn't sold anything, just pleased I could get back in the saddle after an absence of a few months after sadly having to leave my horse in the UK)

During the day we were entertained by street dancers, a stilt walker and the village clown who trundled up and down the high street on his home made music wagon playing french music, we even had a rendition of "when the saints come marching in" played on a Xylophone with cow bells as an accompaniment!

By 3pm I had sold one item for 5€ and Abigail had sold 5€ of lucky dip prizes. Nick however was doing much better. At 5pm after sitting outside for 10 hours we decided to call it a day and loaded the car for the short journey home again.

Next weekend it is the village Fayre in Lavit de Lomagne and they are holding a nut festival, as the nut harvest is in full swing now. I will report on any interesting findings next week.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Out of my comfort zone, plus some!

I am told that I will not improve my command of the french language unless I put myself in more challenging situations!

Well, this evening I did just that..............I volunteered to help the children at my daughters school with their swimming lessons. Little did I know it would involve an in depth training session followed by a swimming test!

Off I trundled to the municipal pool with my nicest all in one costume (just in case the lifeguard was a dish!! lol).... On arrival, I was ushered to a holding room where all the other parents were gathering to represent their childs school in the region. I didnt realise, but some had travelled for nearly half an hour for this induction and test! It all looked a bit serious to me.... I just thought I was helping with swimming lessons!

After a scary looking woman spent over half an hour going through rules and regulations, which I appreciate are necessary (and amazingly understanding most of it), we were asked to go to the changing rooms and to gather by the pool when ready. I felt I was back at school myself!

Rather disappointingly, the scary female instructor re appeared, and not a lifeguard or a pair of speedos were in sight! Our names were called one at a time and we had to do a simple test of entering the water at speed (ie diving or jumping in). This was to be followed by a length of breast stroke, a length of back stroke and retrieval of an object from the bottom of the pool....simple I thought.... NO!

As my name was called, I made my way to the end of the pool and took my position to enter the water. All eyes were on me, every other mum had dived in so I couldn't just jump in, I had my reputation to establish and certainly did not want to look like a fool!

Actually, I have not dived for some time as I wear contact lenses and have always been a bit scared I would loose one, if i did I would be totally helpless and blind! So... I held my breath... closed my eyes and dived............ great I thought as I came up for air, no belly flop and I still have both lenses.... oops, but not my top.......... how embarassing! I quickly rearranged myself, completed the test and after getting the nod from the instructor that I had passed, made a hasty exit from the pool , rather red faced, before I could be called upon to do anything else.

The next problem will be when I actually have to go and help with the children. I will be allocated 8 youngsters between 6-8 years old all with various degrees of confidence, fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Harvest time in france!

Although it is the end of the summer here, it is still warm during the day and we are regularly hitting 28 degrees, there is however a nip in the air in the evenings and it will not be long before I am forced to wear socks again!

Clearly the birds are noticing it too, the housemartins and swallows are gathering in their thousands along the power cables anticipating their long journey south and it takes skill to miss them in the car as they all take to the air as I drive past.

The hunting season has also started and we were woken this morning to the sound of bells... each hunting dog has one around its neck so they are easy to follow by their owners. There were a few shots, a bit of shouting and some partridge taking to the air, but unfortunately no wild boar this time!

With the wheat harvested in early July and fields already ploughed for the winter, the farmers are busy harvesting crops of sunflowers, maize, millett, grapes, plums, nectarines and tomatoes and it will not be long before the nut harvest begins.

We are now in the last stages of harvest at Le Farat and have this year been lucky enough to gather large amounts of food from the garden like cherries, apricots, nectarines, strawberries, grapes is so wonderful to be enjoying all the things I love for free.

This weekend I have been ducking attacks from wasps and hornets in order to gather figs. We have one cob nut tree that seems to be loaded and three trees that have more walnuts on them than we know what to do with. I think I need to find some walnut and fig recipies and buy a bigger freezer!

right...........need to get to it and make some fig and ginger chutney!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Fully equipped games room at Le Farat

We have been working hard all summer here at Le Farat and all our guests have been so complimentary about the house, gite and the B&B room. So clearly the hard work has been paying off. We asked each of our guests what they thought of their stay on departure and what we could do to improve thier experience, all without fail said they love it, which is great but a couple said that it would just be perfect if there was a bit more to do for the we have done just that and added a fully equipped games room in one of the large converted barns opposite the swimming pool, which has an impressive vaulted ceiling with open beams.

It now contains a full size table tennis table, a 5ft air hockey table, a professional table football and a dart board, a seating area at one end, and to add to the experience, a drinks (beer) fridge!!

Why not spend Christmas here this year....I will provide a Christmas hamper and a decorated tree, all you have to do is book the gite for the week!

More wine tasting - regular occurance now!

We have had a steady stream of visitors, in this our first year of running our holiday gite business, and each time someone visits we are recommending a trip out to Saint Sardos and to Donzac to the cave of Cotes du Brulhois. Not that we are encouraging people to increase their alcohol consumption of course............but a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon in France.

Last Friday...yes you've guessed it we went back again! This time the people at Saint Sardos recognised me!! and invited us into the bottling plant to watch my favourite Gilles du Morban being bottled. Our guests purchased a number of cases after a condsiderable time testing different wines and as a thank you we were given a discount and a free bottle of wine!

Leaving Saint Sardos behind we drove the short 25 minutes back towards Auvillar and on into Dune and Donzac to find the wine cave. The lady there, who was supporting a neck brace (we didnt dare ask!) offered a number of white, rose and red wines to taste. Again, already feeling more than a bit relaxed from the previous tasting, our guests purchased yet more red and rose wine! Good job they were driving their own car home!

Later that evening, we discussed our afternoon over a BBQ and a few bottles of the said wine by the pool and went to bed happy and relaxed.

So at Le Farat, we have now decided to offer a wine tasting trip once a week to our guests, with me driving so that everyone can partake in a tipple or two and not have to worry.

Who's going to be next to experience what Le Farat has to offer?